Wednesday, October 5, 2016

UN envoy Martin Kobler's statement on Libya from Geneva

At the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) issued an extensive statement on recent developments in Libya.

The full statement can be found on the United Nations Support Mission (UNSMIL) website. Kobler begins by noting that the signing of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) last December created hope for what he calls the rule of law in the country. However, he points out that as of now Libya is facing a political impasse since the House of Representatives (HoR) has yet to "fully endorse" the LPA. Indeed, as he notes, in August it voted against the vote of confidence in the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) as required by the LPA.
The Presidency Council (PC) of the GNA was supposed to present a new list of eight ministers to HoR after the August 22 vote against the GNA. One of three themes that Kobler speaks of in his address is national reconciliation: "..peace will only be sustainable if forged by the Libyans. National reconciliation has to start now." In his discussion on these matters he does not touch on national reconciliation as involving the HoR carrying through with a vote on a new GNA as required under the LPA. Until now, this has been a key element of the way forward always emphasized in statements. While much of Kobler's discussion relates to the human rights situation, one would think that he would have more to say about this matter.
Kobler does go into some detail about the security situation. He notes that Libya is witnessing "dangerous military developments". For once Kobler comes out and actually names General Haftar, commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA), the armed forces of the HoR, as being responsible for the seizure of four oil ports in the Oil Crescent. He remarks that Haftar does not recognize the GNA or the PC. Kobler notes too that there is sporadic violence elsewhere and in Tripoli. He thinks that there is a risk of increased tensions in the capital.
Unlike, the chair of the National Oil Company, Mustafa Sanalla, Kobler does not mention the positive effect of the seizure that the ports were "turned over" to the NOC that is now beginning the export of oil again. Perhaps unlike Sanalla who was critical of the deal worked out with Ibrahim Jadhran, head or former head of the Petroleum Facilities Guards, Kobler, who helped work out the deal, is angry that the attack on the ports and defeat of Jadhran sabotaged it. On the other hand, Sanalla is no doubt pleased that Jadhran was defeated and the deal is dead.
Unlike many of Kobler's statements, this release does not gloss over the problems that Libya faces. He notes that the continued political and military instability is having a devastating effect on the economy and causing huge problems that the GNA has been unable to deal with effectively. A full 93 percent of the Libyan budget goes to salaries and subsidies including to armed groups not under control of the governments. Kobler remarks on the prolonged power shortages and lack of cash, as well as a broken medical system and many schools not being used.
Under the rubric of national reconciliation, Kobler talks not of reconciliation between the GNA and the HoR and followers of Haftar but of the return of 40,000 displaced Tawerghans and their compensation. He then goes on to discuss Libyan institutions noting that the UN supports the development of the constitution. He then discusses the Presidential Guard which he sees as establishing security forces under government control rather than relying on militia. What Kobler does not discuss is how he is going to ensure that Haftar and the HoR become reconciled to the GNA. This is surely the key to any lasting security situation in Libya.
Kobler has insisted that Haftar play a role in any unified GNA government: "KoblerSRSG tells @FRANCE24 that Haftar must have a role in #Libya army "otherwise there will be no unity of the country"". Faiez Serraj, echoes Kobler by claiming that Haftar should be represented in a new more inclusive government. Serraj said in an interview: "We have no other choice but dialogue and reconciliation. No one wants an escalation or a confrontation between Libyans." Serraj says he will quickly submit to the HoR a new government in which everyone is represented in a balanced way. The PC has already had over a month to create such a government but there is as yet no sign of a completed list. There is no word yet on when or even if the HoR will meet again to consider a new vote on the GNA and on amending the constitutional declaration as well. Kobler in his statement gives us no clue as to how there can be reconciliation between Haftar and the HoR with the GNA.


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